Wittenberg beats La Roche to advance in NCAA tournament

Wittenberg against Denison on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020, at Pam Evans Smith Arena in Springfield.
Wittenberg against Denison on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020, at Pam Evans Smith Arena in Springfield.

Credit: David Jablonski - Staff Writer

Credit: David Jablonski - Staff Writer

Tigers are playing in the NCAA tournament for 30th time

The Wittenberg Tigers won a first-round NCAA Division III tournament game for the third straight season, beating La Roche University 83-66 on Friday at Pam Evans Smith Arena.

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Ninth-ranked Wittenberg shot 50 percent from the field (28 of 56) and 50 percent (12 of 24) from 3-point range.

Jake Bertemes scored 20 points. James Johnson had 15. Connor Seipel had 14 points and 11 rebounds. Rashaad Ali-Shakir scored 14 off the bench.

Wittenberg (27-2) will host Susquehanna University (21-7) in the second round at 6 p.m. Saturday. Susquehanna, the Landmark Conference champions, overcame an 11-point deficit in the second half to beat Benedictine University 64-59 in the first game at Wittenberg Friday.

Susquehanna reached the Sweet 16 in its last NCAA tournament appearance in 2017. Wittenberg has lost in the second round the last two years and last won a second-round game in 2012.

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Wittenberg led La Roche for the last 27 minutes. La Roche trailed 43-35 at halftime and cut the deficit to 43-40 early in the second half. Wittenberg pushed the lead to double digits midway through the half and was not seriously challenged again.